Thunder Moon Tussle, A Near Future Science Fiction Novel

Near Future Science Fiction Novel — Thunder Moon Tussle

Thun­der Moon Tus­sle is a near future sci­ence fic­tion nov­el by Torn MacAlester.


Nils is a prospec­tor, some­times smug­gler, who seems to always get into alter­ca­tions with the local deputy sher­iff (Moon Deputy) Genevieve (Gen) Miller.



Coming Soon

Torn MacAlester’s Fabulae Lunae

The Lunadyne Incident  and Other Stories



Available Now


Fabulae Lunae 1

Thunder Moon Tussle

Near Future Science Fiction Moon Deputy

Who is the Sci­ence Fic­tion Moon Deputy?

Read Thun­der Moon Tus­sle and find out.

Avail­able on Ama­zon Kin­dle and where books are sold.



Chapter 4



Nils drove toward his home habitat.

Hab 18?” Miller asked again, though Nils avoid­ed the sub­ject for the past half hour.

“Miller, how about I give you a big­ger cut with my job–”

“I’d always take a big­ger cut,” she grinned.

“–in exchange for you not going with me?”

“Out of the ques­tion,” Deputy Miller snapped back quick­ly. “I’ve got to look out for my investment.”

“What invest­ment?” Nils grumbled.

“The val­ue of my ten per­cent of the thir­ty-thou­sand, plus expens­es.” Miller stat­ed, then her voice soft­ened. “Plus, I think it will be a per­fect way to ask you for my favor.”

“What is it about, Miller?” Nils asked, his own voice soft­en­ing. “Can’t you give me a hint?”

“No,” she almost whis­pered. “Not yet.”

They sat silent­ly as the crawler nav­i­gat­ed the tracks, head­ing toward his habitat.

“We’re about three hours away from my hab,” Nils said, break­ing the awk­ward silence.

“Any sur­pris­es?” Deputy Miller asked.

“Like what?”

“Like let­ting me in on Hab 18?

“What will you give me for it?” Nils sparred, hop­ing to agi­tate her.

“Fine, keep your secret!” Miller snapped. She fur­rowed her brows.

“We’ll get to it,” Nils answered. He recon­sid­ered. Agi­tat­ing her seemed stu­pid. “I’ve got an idea.”

“What?” Miller asked.

“Let’s call a truce.” Nils suggested.

“What do you pro­pose?” Miller’s voice soft­ened again.

“We’ll set the dis­cus­sion about Hab 18 aside for a while. I’ll stop ask­ing you about the favor.”

“Fair enough,” she said.

“Thanks,” Nils smiled and checked the auto-dri­ve, ensur­ing that they were still on course.

“What should we talk about instead?”

“How about the Urubuan Marshal’s vis­it?” Nils asked, won­der­ing what they had been look­ing for.

“Most­ly infor­mal,” Deputy Miller answered. “They seemed con­cerned about how we orga­nized the Department.”

“How so? I mean, you han­dle things fair­ly well. We have no crime at Conrad.”

“Ha. Com­ing from one of its most upstand­ing citizens.”

“Yup, I’m plan­ning to run for Sta­tion Council.”

They both laughed at the joke.

“How so?” he said, ask­ing again.

“They want­ed to know how our juris­dic­tion fit with­in Amer­i­can law enforce­ment. It sur­prised him that we don’t.”


“You’re sur­prised?” She asked, Nils noticed her face betrayed astonishment.

“Well—I mean, yeah,” Nils fum­bled. “I didn’t real­ize that you don’t have connections.”

“It’s sim­ple,” Miller answered. “The depart­ment is part of Luna­dyne secu­ri­ty. If we have an actu­al crime to report, we need to con­tact the what­ev­er agency we care to. It’s usu­al­ly the U. S. Marshal’s office since it’s easier.”

“You’re not a cop?” Nils challenged.

“So, if you assume that,” Miller growled. “I’ll put you in a body cast for sure.”

“No,” Nils steered away from the chal­lenge. “I meant that I don’t under­stand how Luna­dyne secu­ri­ty fits.”

“Hon­est­ly, that is what the Mar­shal was asking.”

“What did you explain that made sense to him?”

“I can arrest who­ev­er they need arrest­ed,” she answered. “If a major crime occurs, I need to report it to what­ev­er author­i­ty is con­ve­nient. I can arrest any­one and hold them until the Earth side author­i­ty picks them up. Also, I can act to pro­tect the com­pa­ny assets from destruction.”

“What does that mean?”

“Exact­ly what I said. If some ass­hole were attempt­ing to break open a door direct­ly to vac­u­um, I would stop him. I’d take him down if needed.”

Nils thought as he mon­i­tored the progress of the auto-drive.

Why is she being so open about it? She got pissed at me and kept it up for going on three years now. What has changed? She is almost being nice.

She knew about the smug­gling. He had told her in so many words. Obvi­ous­ly, she could have arrest­ed him fre­quent­ly, but she did not.


“Yeah, prospec­tor?”

“What’s with the arrange­ment?” Nils asked.

“You mean the ten per­cent?” She grinned.

“Yup, that and the oth­er fees,” he said, won­der­ing about the cat-and-mouse game they played. She would find him about once a month and force him to pay some fee to have her look the oth­er way.

“So, you’re want­i­ng to rene­go­ti­ate our deal?”


“Let me remind you, Nils,” She smiled. “Our arrange­ment is that you need to pay a ten per­cent fee for you to con­tin­ue doing busi­ness at the bar.”

“–payable before I leave the sta­tion. We’ve been through that.”

“Then what do you want?”

“For­get it,” he said. Nils declined to dig any fur­ther. Pay­ing Miller had become a cost of doing busi­ness, and he lacked the mon­ey to pay more. But it had nev­er gone beyond the occa­sion­al has­sle. Miller had nev­er asked him to dri­ve any­where. She had nev­er insert­ed her­self into any of his oth­er business.

Why now? He won­dered. What had changed?

Upon their arrival at the habi­tat, Nils need­ed to dri­ve from the back of the crawler, peer­ing out the rear air­lock. As he moved to the rear to dri­ve, he felt Miller fol­low him. She seemed close as he steered the crawler to dock with his hab. As the air­locks con­nect­ed in a hard dock, he hit the brakes, caus­ing Miller to bump into him from behind.

“Excuse me,” she said after the col­li­sion. He won­dered if he felt one of her shoul­ders or if her breast had bounced off his back. The lat­ter cre­at­ed an image that took a few moments to shake.

He glanced at her, “No prob­lem.” Smil­ing, he thought past the moment, and cursed him­self for let­ting her dis­rupt him so much. Miller’s inten­tions, as three years of expe­ri­ence had shown, remained mys­te­ri­ous. Before she could break his con­cen­tra­tion again, he turned and worked the door.

“So, this is your hab?” She said as he opened the airlock.

“Yup,” he answered. “Any­thing ille­gal found will be acci­den­tal. I believe that every­thing is legal here.”

“Nils,” her voice took on a sooth­ing tenor. “Relax. If I want­ed to bust you, I would have showed up last week when you had your last ship­ment here.”

“Miller, I–”

How did she know? And why did she seem to let me off the hook?

“Nils, I’m jok­ing. What part of relax didn’t you understand?”


“I’m not here to bust you,” she glared. “Remem­ber, I need a favor. That is why you brought me here. Besides, I doubt I have juris­dic­tion here.”

“Huh?” Not under­stand­ing her state­ment about jurisdiction.

“Favor, remem­ber?”

“Oh, yes.” Nils set­tled him­self, feel­ing his guts shoved one direc­tion as his mind went anoth­er. “What is the favor?”

“All in time,” Miller looked at him. “Are we going to stand in the air­lock, or are you going to show me your place?”

“Oh,” Nils willed him­self to open the air­lock door and enter the habi­tat. “It’s small, but it’s home.”

“Very nice,” he saw her smile as they made eye con­tact when she entered the habitat.

“I hope it isn’t too much of a mess. I keep bro­ken equip­ment because I can use some parts for raw mate­ri­als.” He got into the habit of sort­ing them in the habi­tat before plac­ing them in the equip­ment lock­ers. He focused on those things impos­si­ble to build using a three-dimen­sion­al print­er. Some met­als and some fibers had remained out of reach of the tech­nol­o­gy. As a result, any­thing with a non-print­able part got his attention.

“It’s fine,” Miller smiled.

“The kitchen is over here,” he said as he walked across the com­pact habi­tat. “Water is here. Cof­fee is here—meals in the freezer—microwave.” He point­ed to the items as he named them, then stepped around the freez­er and point­ed. “I have a bed­room and bath back here. You’re more than wel­come to the show­er and any­thing you need.”

“A show­er sounds good.” Miller stepped toward the doorway.

“There is not much pri­va­cy.” He shrugged, try­ing to get the image of her in the show­er out of his head. “I’ve got some stuff to work on in the crawler.”

“Nils,” she said, plac­ing a hand on his sleeve, “It’s okay.”

“Thanks,” is all he could think to say. He turned toward the crawler.

He took his time, need­ing to be away from her. Regard­less of how he felt about her being in his busi­ness from time to time, he still found her way too attrac­tive to be in close con­fines with her for too long. Though he trust­ed him­self, he won­dered how long he could main­tain his restraint. Espe­cial­ly when he thought of her naked in his show­er. All he felt like he need­ed was a nod of approval and he would be upon her in an instant.

As he reor­ga­nized the crawler, he real­ized that his mind had been on her the entire time. He need­ed to spend some time on plan­ning the trip to Hab 18. It would be dif­fi­cult regard­less. With Deputy Miller along for the ride, dif­fi­cult could trans­late into impossible.

He need­ed a hop­per, a rock­et attach­ment, to car­ry the crawler from Con­rad sta­tion to Mare Frig­oris. From there, they would dri­ve up to Hab 18 along the road. Once col­lect­ing the pad, they would dri­ve back to the land­ing and take the hop­per back to Con­rad Sta­tion. It seemed easy, though there were a thou­sand things that could go wrong.

One thing remained sim­ple. Nils need­ed to con­vince Miller to aban­don her insis­tence upon going with him. The jour­ney was far too dangerous.

He entered the habi­tat after unload­ing the crawler. As he turned, he could see her in the kitchen, look­ing through his cab­i­nets. Wear­ing noth­ing but a long tee shirt that revealed her cheeks, she reached into an upper cabinet.

He smiled to him­self, mov­ing toward the kitchen. Glanc­ing over her shoul­der, she gave a slight smile. “Where the hell do you keep the coffee?”

“Sec­ond draw­er from the top,” he answered, “next to the cups and spoons.” He admired her as she opened the draw­er and pre­pared the beverage.

She smiled, retriev­ing the cups. “I thought we should talk.”

“Yeah,” Nils answered as he watched her. She heat­ed the water and made the coffee.

“So,” she said, “the naked truth.”

“The near­ly naked truth,” he observed.

“Oh–” Miller smiled, tug­ging at the tee shirt.

“What’s this about?” Nils tensed, real­iz­ing that she had been manip­u­lat­ing him again.

“Look,” she sat down at the table, set­ting the cups down for them. “I’m try­ing to make a peace offer­ing Nils.”

“Yup,” he answered, sit­ting down across from her. “And then you will demand your cut and insist that it’s the only way you don’t turn me over to either the Amer­i­can or Urubuan Mar­shals. I’ve heard all this before, Deputy.”

“How much was my cut?”

“Ten per­cent.”

“So,” she leaned for­ward, tak­ing a sip of cof­fee. “I take ten percent.”


“Ten per­cent, but you spec­i­fy the value?”

“Uh, yup.”

“Then you could have been lying to me about the val­ue.” She lift­ed her cof­fee and took a sip, an almost smug look on her face.


“Not that you did,” she observed. “You are very hon­est. I’d know if you lied.”

“I did not.”

“You should have,” she stat­ed. Nils not­ed the slight smile and the beam­ing eyes. “But I know you didn’t.”

“Miller, I don’t under­stand what you–”

“Lis­ten, Nils,” she inter­rupt­ed, “I got mad at you that night. In fact, I’m still pissed about it.” He knew the night she was speak­ing about, the night they met. He forced it out of his mind, as he reliv­ed every moment of hell since.

“Miller,” he start­ed again. “I don’t want to relive that night. I should have kept my mouth shut.”

Why the hell did she want to bring that up?

“You’re miss­ing the point,” she said.

“No. I’m not. We crashed and burned that night, and I should not have tried to con­duct busi­ness at the same time.”

“You’re still miss­ing the point.”

“I don’t care about that now. I need you to recon­sid­er going with me.”

“You mean now?” she asked.


“I don’t think so,” she frowned.

“It’s dan­ger­ous.”

“I know,” she answered, still hid­ing some­thing. “But I need to be there with you.”

“Come on,” Nils said, frus­trat­ed. “You can stay at Con­rad. It will just take me a cou­ple weeks.”

“I can’t.”

“You mean you won’t.” He pressed.

“I need to be with you.” She stat­ed. “Let’s con­sid­er it part of the favor you owe me.”

“About that,” Nils con­sid­ered, know­ing she was hid­ing far more than a sim­ple favor. “What is this all about?”

“I’ll get to it.”

“I don’t have time–”

“Nils, please.” She spoke, eyes open as though she were mak­ing a plea. “We’ll get to that lat­er. First, I would like to ask you–”

“Ask me what?”

“How are we get­ting to Hab 18?”

“We’ll need a hop­per.” Nils answered before he real­ized she had said we.


“It’s a small rock­et.” Nils smiled. “It’s enough of an engine to lift the crawler to the trail-head and back.” A hop­per pow­er­ful rock­et burned enough for a sub-orbital hop, pro­vid­ing trans­port to anoth­er loca­tion on the lunar sur­face with the crawler. It was a means of hop­ping from one loca­tion on the Moon to anoth­er. For point-to-point trav­el, a hop­per was a main­stay of lunar trans­porta­tion, like sub-orbital rock­et jumps had replaced air­planes for transcon­ti­nen­tal flights after Yellowstone.

“Not all the way there?”

“Not real­ly,” Nils shook his head. “This trip is dan­ger­ous enough. Land­ing near 18 would be tough.”


“I’m not that good of a pilot,” Nils answered. “The ter­rain is rougher when we get clos­er to the pole. The autopi­lot might require an over­ride. I can­not take that risk.”

Available Now


Fabulae Lunae 1

Thunder Moon Tussle


Coming Soon

Torn MacAlester’s Fabulae Lunae

The Lunadyne Incident  and Other Stories



Thunder Moon Tussle: a Near Future Science Fiction Novel by Torn MacAlester

A Near Future Science Fiction Novel

A Near Future Sci­ence Fic­tion Nov­el by Torn MacAlester

Fabulae Lunae 1

Thunder Moon Tussle


Nils Carmike’s dream was to live on the Moon. He seized the chance to become a smug­gler on the Moon, leav­ing behind his astro­naut career, ex-wife, and post-Yel­low­stone dis­as­ter Earth. Life was going great until the seduc­tive and demand­ing Moon Deputy Miller arrived. She was hot today, cold tomor­row, and every day on Nils’s back. Out­ma­neu­vered and in over his head, Nils grants her a favor that leads to dan­ger. Can they work togeth­er and focus on the only thing that mat­ters? Or will they for­get Rule #1?